Alcohol, not opioids, is the substance that caused the most hospital admissions and emergency department visits among a group of Pennsylvania seniors, new analysis shows.

Statewide, Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council found 7,833 admissions and visits caused by substance abuse among those in Medicare fee-for-service plans from 2016 through 2018.

Well over half — 4,816 — were caused by alcohol. Opioids were second, at 1,753. The rest were:

  • Sedatives: 692
  • Cocaine: 181
  • "All other": 409

“By focusing on Pennsylvania’s older residents, we’re hoping to raise awareness on how substance use, alcohol in particular, affects this population,” said agency director Joe Martin.

The report had a total but not a breakdown for Lancaster County: 217 over the three years. And its unadjusted rate was 3.8 per 1,000 seniors, below the statewide rate of 6.1.

Overall, just under a third of the visits and admissions were caused by overdoses. Average Medicare payments for hospital and emergency visits, respectively, were as follows: $6,289 and $525 for alcohol and $7,901 and $509 for opioids.